Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Cliff Lee pitched eight innings of three- hit ball, and Shane Victorino hit a three-run homer to cap a torrid offensive night for the Phillies, who dealt the Dodgers an 11-0 drubbing in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Lee (2-0) was brilliant in his start, striking out 10 and walking none to get the win, which gives Philadelphia a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. Game 4 is scheduled for Monday night back at Citizens Bank Park.
In three starts this postseason, Lee has been outstanding for the Phillies, allowing only two earned runs in 24 1/3 innings for a 0.74 ERA. The left- hander, who the Phillies acquired from Cleveland in July, has also struck out 20 and walked only three.
“When you’ve got the offense that we’ve got, I don’t want to go out there and walk guys and have long innings and stuff like that,” Lee said. “I’ve got to go out there and attack hitters and throw strikes and give our offense a chance to score runs. Tonight we did that pretty early and made things a lot easier for me.”
The Phillies scored six runs off Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda (0-1) in the first two innings. Kuroda lasted only 1 1/3 frames before being pulled.
Victorino finished with two hits and two walks, while Jayson Werth hit a two- run homer and Ryan Howard hit a two-run triple for Philadelphia. Carlos Ruiz continued his hot postseason, going 2-for-3 with a walk and run batted in.
Manny Ramirez had two hits for the Dodgers, who had only one runner reach second base the entire game.
Sunday’s game, which started with a temperature in the 40s, looked like it might have been a pitching duel between Lee and Kuroda, who entered the contest with a 0.95 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
But the Philadelphia bats got to Kuroda early and often, as Victorino singled with one out and stole second. Chase Utley followed with another base hit to put runners on the corners for Howard, who ripped a ball down the right field line to the corner, plating two runs and allowing Howard to leg out a triple.
“Full-out panic going around second base,” Howard said. “No, I mean, it was a lot of fun. I saw where the ball was. I saw where [Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier] was. It was one of those things where I had to make my mind up if this is going to happen or not. So once I hit second, it was pretty much going full bore.”
Werth followed by crushing a homer to center, making it a 4-0 game.
Ramirez led off the second with a single, but Lee used a double play to get out of the inning, and the Phillies continued to add runs in the second.
Ruiz doubled to lead off, went to third on Lee’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Jimmy Rollins roped a double down the right field line. That signaled the end of Kuroda’s outing, as Scott Elbert came in to pitch. But Elbert walked Victorino, threw a wild pitch, then walked Utley to load the bases.
Howard followed with an RBI groundout to push the Phillies’ lead to six, and Chad Billingsley came in to get the final out of the inning.
Lee faced the minimum through four innings, but Ramirez led off the fifth with another base hit. However, Lee fanned Matt Kemp, then induced two groundouts to end the inning and turn the show back over to the offense.
Raul Ibanez worked a two-out walk, then came home when Pedro Feliz tripled off the wall in right-center. Ruiz followed with a base hit to right to make it an 8-0 game.
The Dodgers got their final hit in the seventh, a leadoff single from Ronnie Belliard, who moved to second on a groundout. But Lee struck out Ramirez and Kemp to end the threat. The left-hander mixed his numerous pitches, including a sharp curveball, to keep the Dodgers off-balance and notched two more strikeouts in the eighth.
“He’s pretty damned special,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Lee. “Again, he attacks the strike zone, he works fast. He threw us some pitches to hit, but sometimes with his delivery and how aggressive he is, I think he comes at you quick, and sometimes it startles the hitters where they’re not quite ready to hit.”
Lee appeared like he would go for the shutout, as he batted in the bottom half following a Ruiz walk. He singled, then scored on Victorino’s homer to right.
But Lee, having thrown 114 pitches, was removed for Chad Durbin, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth to end the game.
Howard has at least one RBI in each of the Phillies’ seven playoff games in 2009, setting an MLB record for consecutive games with an RBI in a single postseason…Ruiz has reached base in all of Philadelphia’s playoff games so far. He is hitting .429 (9-for-21) in the postseason, with a .538 on-base percentage, one homer and seven RBI…Billingsley threw 3 1/3 innings for LA, allowing two runs, while Ramon Troncoso threw two scoreless frames…The Game 4 starters are scheduled to be Joe Blanton for the Phillies and Randy Wolf for LA.